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9:16 PM Tue, Nov. 20th

Task: Open space<BR>Prescott organizing citizens committee

The City of Prescott is inviting area residents and business people to seek appointment to a new committee that will evaluate future open space acquisitions.

The Open Space Acquisition Committee will study and recommend to the Prescott City Council by February 2004 the best strategies for acquiring open space properties. City officials anticipate at least twice-monthly meetings.

A portion of the 1-percent city sales tax through 2015 goes toward open space acquisition as a result of a 2000 voter initiative. To date, the city has acquired about $2 million worth of open space, including land atop the butte east of Thumb Butte and properties in the Granite Dells.

Prescott City Councilman Robert Behnke said the Open Space Acquisition Committee will conduct "extensive economic evaluations" of properties the city may consider acquiring.

"The economic evaluations will address tourism and business attraction as well as quality commercial and residential investment opportunities," Behnke said.

The evaluation of a particular property also should include how the city could leverage sales-tax revenues with other money sources, such as matching grants, Behnke said.

The Open Space Acquisition Committee likely will work with the Trust for Public Land, the Central Arizona Land Trust and other cities with successful open space preservation programs in the identification and evaluation of potential open-space acquisitions.

Membership on the Open Space Acquisition Committee is open to all city residents, to people who work in Prescott and to people who operate specific types of businesses in the city.

The committee will include representatives of open space organizations, as well as the real estate, banking, development and tourism industries. The committee also will include two at-large representatives, and a City Council member will serve as committee liaison.

The City Council Appointments Committee will review all applicants and forward recommendations for committee appointments to the full City Council.

The deadline for applying to serve on the Open Space Acquisition Committee is May 16. Letters of interest should go to Prescott City Clerk Marie Watson at City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St. Watson's email address is marie.watson@cityofprescott.net.